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Report from
JULY 29, 1997


The Second Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism was inaugurated in the outskirts of Madrid on July 26th, with the participation of nearly 4,000 delegates from 50 countries, including two indigenous representatives of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

The Second Encounter--based on the obvious precedent of the First Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, convoked by the EZLN and carried out in Zapatista communities in Chiapas exactly one year ago--will be divided into a number of major thematic working groups (and more than 50 sub-groups) in five different regions of the Spanish Republic for the next seven days, and will conclude with a full plenary session on August 3rd.

Countries with representatives present on the first day of the Second Encounter included Italy, Spain (Cataluna, Islas Canarias, Pais Vasco, Galicia, Andalucia, Aragon), Mexico, Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, Canada, the United States, Finland, Ireland, Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, Portugal, South Africa, Chad, Cameroon, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Morocco, Turkey, Israel, India, Bangladesh, Australia, and Indonesia, as well as nearly every country from South America.

As part of the official inauguration ceremony on the evening of July 26th, the two Zapatista representatives--Dalia and Felipe, both Tojolabales from the exiled community of Guadalupe Tepeyac--addressed the thousands of delegates with a message from the indigenous Zapatista communities of Chiapas:

"It has been very important for us to know that all these people exist", said Felipe, in reference to the participants of the Encuentro. "We thought we were alone, and that we were the only ones being screwed over. But now, you help us, and we help you. We came to discuss a plan of struggle. We want everyone to have the same as everyone else--not that everyone lives the same, but that we all struggle together to respect the cultures and the customs of both the countryside and the cities. We fight against neoliberalism, because we see the situation in the world: the rich are richer, the poor are poorer. More death, more oppression. We want everything to be done better", he said.

"We did not come here", continued Dalia, "to fight among ourselves, to see whose word is best, or to find out who has the truth or who is the strongest. Freedom is not achieved by defeating one's brother. We can only become better with others, and not on top of others."

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos had previously announced the imminent presence of an EZLN delegation in Spain in a communique published on July 23rd:

"For the first time, a delegation made up of members of the EZLN will attend an international event outside of the Mexican borders", said Marcos. "Thus, the EZLN has decided to break the local, regional, state, and national sieges in order to carry the voice of the Zapatistas on Zapatista lips.

"While the Mexican government hides its hands stained with indigenous blood in order to achieve a commerce agreement from the European Union which does not entail profound changes in the system, the indigenous communities in Mexico continue to suffer a persecution and harassment only comparable to that carried out centuries ago, and the Mexican population continues suffering from an economic model that only democratizes poverty and concentrates the riches in the hands of a few....

"Our delegates are bases of support of the EZLN, indigenous people who represent the rebellion and resistance of the peoples who rose up in arms more than three and a half years ago against the oblivion and death to which they had been condemned....The EZLN does not send "personalities" as delegates, but rather a representation of its true leaders, the indigenous-zapatista peoples.

"The world is not made up of leaders or caudillos, but rather of bases of support. We are all bases of support for the great struggle for humanity and against neoliberalism."

Major working groups into which the delegates at the Encuentro will be divided include: "The Neoliberal economy against Humanity: our lives beyond the economy"; "Work and the means of production: creating the conditions for a worthwhile life"; "North-South and East-West relations"; "People and identities: old and new problems"; "Human mobility and forced destinies"; "Struggles for culture, education and information"; "Women and their struggles: the struggle against patriarchy"; "Struggles for land and the earth: Ecology"; and "Against all forms of marginalisation".

To the For Humanity and Against Neo Liberalism index

1st encuentro | 2nd encuentro | |